News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
EINSTEIN TO MAKE RUN AT HISTORY IN SATURDAY’S GRADE I STEPHEN FOSTER
Einstein (BRZ) will carry high weight of 124 pounds and concede from 2-11 pounds to seven rivals Saturday as he attempts to become the first horse to win three consecutive Grade I races on three surfaces in the 28th running of the $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
The Stephen Foster, which serves as the centerpiece of an 11-race program that features four other graded stakes, will be the 10th race on the card with a scheduled post time of 5:29 p.m. (ET).
Trained by Helen Pitts-Blasi, Einstein will again be ridden by Julien Leparoux who guided Einstein to victory in the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface and the May 2 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.
Only Lava Man, who retired from racing last July, has won Grade I races on three surfaces, but he did not do it consecutively.
Einstein, a 7-year-old son of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck, will break from post position three in the 1 1/8-mile main track race. Boasting a career mark of 11 wins from 25 starts and earnings of $2,609,904, Einstein ran second in last year’s Stephen Foster behind 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin.
Of Einstein’s 11 victories, seven have come in graded stakes with five being in Grade Is. No other Stephen Foster entrant boasts a Grade I victory, but the other seven starters have combined to win 14 graded stakes.
The most accomplished of those is Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s Asiatic Boy (ARG), who will make his United States debut under the care of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. A winner of four graded stakes in Dubai, Asiatic Boy has captured seven of 15 starts with earnings in excess of $3 million.
McLaughlin won the 2007 Stephen Foster with Flashy Bull.
The complete field for the Stephen Foster, in post position order, is: Alphabet Magic (jockey: Tony Farina, morning line odds: 30-1); Macho Again (Robby Albarado, 10-1); Einstein (Julien Leparoux, 2-1); Arson Squad (Garrett Gomez, 4-1); Researcher (Calvin Borel, 4-1); Bullsbay (Jeremy Rose, 10-1); Asiatic Boy (Alan Garcia, 7-2); and Finallymadeit (Eduardo Nunez, 8-1).
Since achieving Grade I status in 2002, the Foster has produced three horses that went on to earn “Horse of the Year” titles later in the year: 2003 runner-up Mineshaft, 2005 winner Saint Liam and last year’s victor Curlin.
In 1998, Awesome Again and Silver Charm ran 1-2 in the Grade II Foster and then came back in less than five months to duplicate the finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
TOP FILLIES TAKE UP GRADE I QUEST IN OGDEN PHIPPS AT BELMONT
The Belmont Stakes, won last Saturday by Summer Bird, represents the end of the Triple Crown trail and the three-year-olds’ stranglehold on media attention. Horses in other division are just now getting started on their campaigns, and Saturday afternoon, Belmont Park fans will be treated to a star-studded field when seven fillies and mares go to post in the 41st running of the Grade I, $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth.
Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, has entered Godolphin Stable’s Music Note and Darley Stable’s Seventh Street in the Ogden Phipps, hoping that the two fresh horses will bring their A-game to the main track.
Music Note, a daughter of 1992 Horse of the Year and Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, won the Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks and Gazelle at Belmont as a three-year-old last year, and just missed winning her fourth Grade I of the year when she was beaten a head by Proud Spell in Saratoga’s prestigious Alabama. After her emphatic 8½-length victory in the Gazelle, Music Note went to Santa Anita, where she ran third to champion Zenyatta in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
“It was a good race for her, but the gray filly [Zenyatta] blew right by her,” Mettee said. “It was her first start on a synthetic surface, and she was only beaten three lengths, so she was hardly embarrassed.”
Jockey Javier Castellano has the mount on Music Note, who breezed a half-mile in 48.24 on Monday morning on the fast main track. Music Note will carry top weight of 122 pounds and will break from post six.
Darley Stable’s Seventh Street has won four of six career starts. Previously trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the Street Cry filly makes her debut on Saturday for bin Suroor.
“She won the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park pretty easily going wire to wire,” Mettee said. “Back in February, she ran second in the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel, but she dwelt at the start; in fact, she reared up and lost all chance. But she came back with a run. She has a lot of class.”
Rajiv Maragh has the mount on Seventh Street in the Ogden Phipps. On Monday, Seventh Street breezed a half-mile in a bullet 47.24, the fastest of 107 works at the distance. She will carry 119 pounds and will break from post three.
Music Note and Seventh Street will be joined as a three-horse entry by Darley Stable’s Sea Chanter. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old War Chant filly finished third in the Grade II, one-mile Shuvee here on May 16, behind fellow Phipps runners Seattle Smooth and Color Me Up. She gets in with 114 pounds and jockey John Velazquez, and will break from post seven.
SINGLE BELMONT DAY PICK 6 TICKET PAYS NEARLY $1 MILLION
There was only one person who correctly selected the winners of all six graded stakes races for the Pick 6 on Belmont Stakes Day last Saturday, resulting in a payout of $969,345.
The lone winning ticket was put together by a Youbet.com customer who spent $96 to construct the Pick 6 wager. The winning ticket used one horse in the first leg (Fabulous Strike), two horses in the second leg (Diamondrella, Raw Silk), two horses in the third leg (Munnings, Hull), two horses in the fourth leg (Gabby’s Golden Gal, Livin Lovin), three horses in the fifth leg (Gio Ponti, Cosmonaut, Wesley), and two horses in the sixth leg (Summer Bird, Charitable Man).
The New York Racing Association, Inc.’s (NYRA) mutuel department utilizes progressive scan technology, which generates a report after each leg of any multi-race wager so that all dollars can be tracked throughout the wager, ensuring no one has tampered with any ticket after the first leg of the wager. In addition, NYRA verified with Youbet the structure and cost of this wager, and the time that it was made, before authorizing its payment. The winning Pick 6 wager was placed via Youbet at 1:56 p.m. on Saturday, and the pool closed at 2:34 p.m.
The individual winners of the six races that made up the Pick 6, along with their win payouts, were: True North Handicap – Fabulous Strike ($3.80); Just A Game Stakes – Diamondrella ($21.20); Woody Stephens Stakes – Munnings ($9.00); Acorn Stakes – Gabby’s Golden Gal ($28.40); Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap – Gio Ponti ($9.20); and Belmont Stakes – Summer Bird ($25.80).